what is the difference between picaxe and picbasic?

and which one would you advise?

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rickharris5 years ago
Picaxe is a propriety version of the basic language. It requires the Picaxe chip (relatively cheap) and their down loader software (free).

The system is excellent for medium speed projects although will never compete on speed with compiled languages or native assembler systems.

A more cost effective vehicle than Basic stamp. Easier to programme than Arduino, IMHO, has a shield system and an excellent support forum and documentation free to use.

NO I don't work for them just a very satisfied customer who look at many options.
scwirral4 years ago
PICAXE is excellent in education as the system includes a simple interface circuit which you build into your boards (or you can use a pre manufactured board and just tie this to your choice of inputs / outputs on bread board / vero etc). The system thus allows in circuit programming. I use them to introduce microcontrollers to my pupils (13~16 years old) as they can build a board, and then learn the various programming options (basic or flowcharts). The PC lead is cheap as chips, so I can have one per pupil / computer, and they can work through programs from switching an LED on and off up to controlling multiple inputs, reading multiple digital and analogue inputs, reading data from £1 shop universal TV remotes, composing tune which play on a cheap piezo etc. I'm working on adaption the old favorite 'Steady Hand Game' project to include an 8 pin picaxe. Total project cost will be about £4 including enclosure. The kids will be able to build up a PC lead for about £1 so that they can continue to teach themselves to program at home. I hope that this will lead to more exciting and demanding projects from the older kids. I also plan to build a stock of juicy extra parts such as high current darlingtons, mobile phone vibrate alert motors, LCD screens etc so that the pupils who get bitten by the bug can extend the capability of their project. Ebay is awash with such pocket money tech. Audio sample record and playback circuits (as found in birthday cards) etc can be integrated into the project. I will probably post an instructable on the project later in the year (or get my pupils on to it, several are already members).
From what I can tell (Haven't got enough free bandwidth to search properly), both are small systems built around a various standard Microchip PIC microcontrollers, and with a custom compiler and programmer.

In my opinion, unless you have no basic electrical knowledge (in which case you should try something simpler first) you should just get a straight PIC chip, and a breadboard. That way, you are not tied down to a specific system, and can use a wide range of programming languages, compilers, and programmers.

What reasons did you select the picaxe and picbasic? What features do you want?
selujtje (author)  The Skinnerz5 years ago
I want to make a lasertag system so a infrared receive/send feature would be usefull.
iceng selujtje5 years ago
I took a laser tag system apart, back when the were the rage,
you have to give it to the toy engineers for simplicity and ingenious application.
There was no micro in the sensor or practice target just an IR detector with a white light filter in a tube and a counter chip some LEDs and a buzzer.
In the laser rifle there was a battery with regulator to run the laser diode
and a sound module. 
For close quarters play, they reduced the laser power level with a knob near the front of the barrel.
When moved, the knob put something like smoke plex in line with the output of the laser diode ( Really simple ).


It is interesting to see the devices and mechanisms in things made before digital electronics became widely available, especially the sheer number of tiny gears ans pulleys in old avionics.
Several PIC chips have an on board serial transmit/receive function, so any module using one of those chips will also support this. You should just be able to hook up an IR sensor and an LED/laser. Alternatively, with a little more programming, you can use most of the range to get any cost/features you want.

For anything where you need multiple chips, a PIC programmer (about £40 for a USB PICkit2) becomes good value, as each additional mid-high end chip and the required hardware can be got for under £5, instead of having to buy the whole thing again each time.

There are several tutorials available on using the serial data communication, and IR transmission.
iceng5 years ago
Looks like PicAxe only works with certain picaxe chips you must purchase
through the UK company ( only looking at their manual ).
While picbasic will work with Parallax Stamps, with microchip dips, most SMD parts direct and convert to machine language when more speed is needed.